how to make moving less formidable.

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The door closed behind my boyfriend. Then, suddenly, it was that moment. My stomach dropped into my shoes, my heart started racing, my head started spinning. I collapsed onto the couch and started sobbing uncontrollably. It was the moment I had been dreading, the moment when a single thought crossed my mind and sent me over the edge: What if we’ve made a terrible mistake?

I’m horrible with transitions, I always have been. The beginning of every semester of college was a nightmare for me. I don’t know why I thought moving across the country would be any easier. This moment was inevitable.

After college David and I lived in our little college town and worked jobs that were just okay in a place that was losing its glamour for us. We had really bad wanderlust. So we made a plan. In the spring we’d quit our jobs, get rid of all of our stuff, and drive west until we found a town we fell in love with. We did all of those things. After two and a half months on the road we found ourselves in a sublet in Durango, CO.

The door shutting was David going to his first day of work. The sobbing commenced when I realized I was alone for the first time, in a new apartment, in a town I didn’t know, across the country from my family, without a job, or any friends. What the hell was I doing.

It’s been two months since that moment and everything has changed. Moving to a town for love rather than work is extremely difficult. The quality of life will be as high as it can get, but you won’t have security or a career track right off the bat. Yet, with a little patience, it’s very possible. For anyone else experiencing this same transition, or hoping to endure it soon, I have several recommendations for you. These steps will make the change a little bit smoother.

1. Get a Job.

If you’ve moved somewhere for a job then this step doesn’t really apply to you. But, if you’re moving to a town unpreparedly, like I did, then the first thing you should do is track down a service job, even if you don’t need one right away. Having a job, something to do several times a week, will get you out of the house and give you a social life. You’ll meet people, maybe you’ll even make friends. I started working at a restaurant. Having people to talk and something to do distracted me from the transitional stress.

2. Get Outside.

If you’ve moved somewhere with natural attractions then go do as many outdoor activities as you can. At first it was really I had a hard time getting off the couch from watching Friends obsessively. Finally, I went for a hike and was astonished at how beautiful my town actually was. I remembered why I had moved there in the first place. Then I started biking and running, exploring as much as I could. If you live in a city and can’t enjoy nature that way then get outside and explore your new stomping grounds. Get to know it, soon enough you’ll start feeling like you truly belong.

3. Say Yes.

So that girl you’re working with wants you to go out with her after work. You’re not really sure about her, you two aren’t really all that similar. It doesn’t matter. Say yes. And that guy next door invited you for a hike. You’re pretty tired though, and you were right in the middle of a Friends marathon… doesn’t matter. Say yes. Hanging out with people is the only way to meet people, even if the conditions aren’t ideal. Say yes to everyone and every opportunity (within reason…) even if you’re feeling like a hermit. You won’t regret it. I didn’t.

4. Sublet.

Getting an apartment is a crazy ordeal. In Durango, especially, housing is expensive and hard to find. Finding a good place takes time, energy, and planning. David and I found a guy who was subletting his house for a month to go on vacation. By living in his fully-furnished space for a month we were able to devote more time to find the perfect place, rather than sign a lease for something we didn’t like for way too much money.

5. Call Home.

In those moments when you’re feeling really lonely, out of place, and lost – call home. Call your parents, your family, your friends. Even if it’s hard to pick up the phone, do it. Reminders that you have people that love you, even if they’re far away, are endlessly soothing. I’ve called my mom and my best friends more in the past two months here than I did in the six months before moving – and it’s made a huge difference.

6. Decorate. 

There’s no better way to feel at home then to make a home. Put up pictures of people and moments you love. Buy some plants, put up artwork. By making your new space feel like it’s yours you’ll ensure you have a comfortable place to come home to, even if you’ve had an alienating or lonely day. I bought frames for all my favorite pictures, decorated my porch with flowers, and hit up yard sales for cute pottery, dishes, and decorations I could use to make our new apartment homey.

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Just a few memories I have decorated with.

Moving is hard. Taking a chance and moving somewhere totally new is even harder. Not already having a job seems impossible. Yet, place makes such a difference when it comes to life satisfaction, quality, and enjoyment. You need to be in a place that reflects you, that offers you something beyond just work. If you find that place, make it happen. The transitional period will definitely be worth it (at least that’s what I tell myself, I’m still in it). Hopefully these steps can make it a little easier (they already have for me).

Have you moved abruptly before? What did you do to make the transition easier?

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1 Comment

  1. Jan Golden

    Even though we wanted to leave Ashburn, we knew very little about the place to which we were moving. Your age gives you a slight advantage (okay, maybe a major advantage) to adjusting and adapting to a new place. Right after college, I moved by myself to from NJ to VA Beach (leaving the boyfriend behind). I knew no one but my parents, who had moved to this state independent from my decision to move there (it was my idea first!), and one friend from high school who had also moved to this state/town during our high school years. I did have a job lined up, but I’d moved in late June and my teaching job didn’t start until the end of August. But, I immediately forced myself to go (by myself) to a 4th of July party that my apartment complex was throwing on the day I was unpacking my new apartment. I met two girls on that day who are both still good friends of mine. (One of them is Jim F.’s sister!) I also got out on my own to the beach, etc. and talked to people wherever I went. My next move across the country to CA seemed like a piece of cake. I was newly married and excited to explore a new coast. Again, Bill and I made friends very quickly by accepting and offering invitations. I was busy starting my family in CA. All of our other moves involved toting our little family around, so my children kept me busy and gave me reasons to get out of the house, become involved, meet people, etc. The move to FL was the first one we’d made post-kids. It’s much more difficult to meet people when you’re older and people are already involved with their own friends and families. Getting involved with the aquarium was my Godsend. That became my new home and quasi family. With this move, we didn’t really spend the time or money to decorate our apartment because we knew it would be temporary. We were expecting it to be much more temporary than it actually was. Now that we’re building a home, we’ve already made an effort to meet our new neighbors who are already living in the neighborhood or who are still in the building process like us. I think it’s going to be great. (I do miss my kids who both live too far away 😉 imho, though!)

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